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Old 27.02.2017, 19:27
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Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

Hello,

I'm not exactly new to Switzerland as I've been here for two years, but I haven't had a reason to post before! Sorry this is rather long.

We rent a somewhat dated house. it's from 1968 and all the electrics etc have never been upgraded. One circuit has the tumble dryer, the dishwasher and most of the kitchen. This has always been annoying because I couldn't run the dishwasher and dryer at the same time.

However, the dryer broke recently. The repairman tried to remove the plug from the wall socket and it was fused in. It has been this way since we moved in and I always thought it was unsafe, even pointed it out to the landlord once (who has sadly died and now his son has inherited the property). He shrugged and fixed the dryer. I noticed a strange electrical smell afterwards, but thought it was from the repair. Two weeks later I was using the dryer and noticed sparks and smoke coming from the outlet. I turned off the circuit, called the landlord, and went upstairs to cook lunch. The hob wouldn't work--it was blinking off and on and then there was a burning smell. We looked under the sink and the outlet where the dishwasher was plugged in was burnt. Later my husband thought to plug in the dishwasher to a Swiss extension cord to get it to work and it blew up in his face. (Not the best plan TBH!)

Today the electrician came. He was impatient at poor French (though I was doing the best I can) and didn't listen to me describing what happened. After about a half an hour he started shouting "Madame, we have a big problem" and then proceeded to yell at me for "letting" my husband use an extension cord in the kitchen.

Like most older Swiss kitchens, ours has a limited number of outlets (2), so my husband put 2 of our appliances (toaster and blender) on a UK plug that he had rewired on one end to Swiss. He also put the microwave on an extension cord just so we could put it in a cupboard and not on the miniscule countertop.

The electrician said that you can't have things like toasters and blenders on an extension cord, that they are "too hot" but it is fine to have computers etc on them. He says that the fire is all our fault, despite showing me water damage from the sink which caused a problem with the dishwasher plug and agreeing that the dryer plug was old and had a problem. (He said, there are many little problems, but yours is a big one, and it is the real problem.) While I was there he called the landlord and told them that we had 4 toasters in the kitchen (it was only 3 appliances) and that it is broken because of us. We will of course have to pay for the repair because it's "our fault".

My main question is, is this true? Can you run small appliances like toasters and blenders on an extension cord or will it cause such a fire risk that your plug sockets catch fire?! It may be because the circuit was already overloaded? I did ask this, but he was far too busy telling me my husband was no electrician to actually answer.

I have asked some Swiss friends and they say they use extension cords in the kitchen. Is it a UK-Swiss thing? Is the guy wrong? TBH, he was rude from the beginning, and spent a lot of time laughing with the landlord about clueless foreigners.
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